COPD Exercise Mistakes to avoid

by Suzanne Andrews

Exercising when you have COPD is a whole new ball game, You need to know what exercise mistakes to avoid and what #COPDexercises you should do to help you live a better quality of life. As a rehab therapist whose instructed patients since 2006 with pulmonary therapy techniques, I've researched tons of medical journals for my patients and put it into my PBS television show, Functional Fitness. No need for you to sift through 1000's of pages of medical jargon as I love to share credible evidenced based info in easy to understand language. I remember going to the doctor and walking out wondering, "what did the Doc just say?" So I vowed that I would never do that.

While there are specific exercises to strengthen your breathing capacity that are therapeutic and very effective, there are also exercises to avoid if you have COPD.

Resistance Exercises with Heavy Weights

If you haven't been exercising, your muscles are weak. Weak muscles suck the oxygen out of you. In other words, de-conditioned muscles need more oxygen than strong muscles. So you need to get your muscles reconditioned from being de-conditioned. Where do you start? First off all, while it's good to lift light weights to get stronger, you should never lift super heavy weights.  By lifting light hand weights, you'll be able to do things like carry groceries without getting out of breath.

Healthwise Exercise COPD Tip: It's so automatic to hold your breath when you lift something heavy and a light weight can feel heavy when you start working out. So be mindful of your breathing. Don't hold your breath - ever! Holding your breath is called the Valsalva Maneuver and can elevate your heart rate and blood pressure to unsafe levels. Instead, slowly exhale through your mouth when you lift light weights when you start your COPD exercise program.

Isometric Exercises

COPD exercise

Isometric exercises are when you push against immovable objects. For example, pushing up against a wall, tightening your muscles and holding the contraction.

Outdoor Exercises in Extreme Heat

Because extreme temperatures affect your circulation, heat can interfere with your ability to breathe. So you want to make sure you exercise in a temperature controlled room.

Healthwise Exercise Tip


Make sure not to perform exercises that require you to bend over as shown in this image. Just as you need to keep a garden hose straight to keep the water flowing, you need to keep a good posture to keep your air flowing.

COPD exercise increases your circulation and that’s another reason why pulmonary exercise helps strengthen your breathing muscles. 

If you have COPD, exercise might not be the first thing that comes to mind, but it’s very important to add pulmonary exercises to your daily activities to slow down the progression of COPD and improve your quality of life. To motivate my patients, I monitor their heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen during their exercises. Keep a pulse oximeter handy so you can see how your oxygen level increases as you get fitter. Don't let COPD stop you from living a great life!

Check out the 9 top copd DVDS here